Starting defensive end Ray McDonald suffered a high-ankle sprain in the second-quarter of Sunday's game when a Panthers offensive lineman fell into the side of his left leg. The injury typically requires multiple weeks of rehabilitation and McDonald said he probably wouldn't play Sunday against the Saints. He was wearing a walking boot on Wednesday.
If McDonald can't play, Tony Jerod-Eddie would make his first career start at left defensive end. Both Jerod-Eddie and Demarcus Dobbs filled in for McDonald in the second half against the Panthers and both received high marks from coaches. McDonald's absence also would increase the chance that either second-round draft pick Tank Carradine or fifth-round pick Quinton Dial would be in uniform against the Saints. Both were inactive against the Panthers.
McDonald, meanwhile, already is dealing with a torn biceps tendon suffered Oct. 6. He said the ankle injury occurred when Aldon Smith got past the offensive lineman assigned to block him. When that linemen tried to recover, he fell into McDonald's leg.
The 49ers were enjoying remarkable overall health coming out of their bye week. That's not the case after the 10-9 loss to the Panthers. Both Vernon Davis and Eric Reid suffered concussions in the game and must be cleared by team doctors and an independent neurologist before they can play Sunday.
Reid, a Louisiana native who played at LSU, said it was his "dream" to play the Saints in the Superdome and said he was asymptomatic after Sunday's concussion. He saw a neurologist yesterday and did some light jogging with no ill effects. Reid and Davis were on hand for practice but were wearing blue, no-contact jerseys as is customary for a player returning from a concussion.
In addition, outside linebacker Dan Skuta, who had been filling in for Smith, was seen in a walking boot Tuesday. He was out of the boot today but still had a slight limp. Skuta, McDonald, Justin Smith (shoulder), tight end Garrett Celek (hamstring) and Michael Crabtree (Achilles') were not observed at the start of practice.
-- Matt Barrows